New Study Proposes Extending the Definition of Adolescence to Age 24, Redefining Millennials
A groundbreaking study published in The Lancet: Child & Adolescent Health may have far-reaching implications for how we understand child development, adolescence, and the millennial generation. The research suggests that the age at which the brain fully matures is not 21, as commonly believed, but rather 25 years old.
Traditionally, adolescence has been associated with being a teenager, encompassing the ages of 13 to 19. Some also include the preteen or tween years of 9 to 12. However, Professor Susan Sawyer and her team of scientists from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne argue that adolescence should begin at 10 and extend until 24.
This redefinition of adolescence has significant implications for millennials, loosely defined as those born between 1981 (or 1982) and 2004. It means that some millennials may still be in their adolescence, challenging the notion that this generation is fully grown.
While individuals in their early 20s may resist this idea, those who have passed through their 20s into their 30s, and even their 40s, may find these findings less surprising. As one writer reflects on their early 20s, they acknowledge how fortunate they were to have survived some questionable choices. The extension of adolescence may grant understanding and relief to those who feel they are lagging behind societal expectations.
The proposed change in definitions is rooted in scientific evidence of continued brain development into the 20s. Additionally, societal factors such as the prolongation of education and the delay of life milestones, such as marriage, homeownership, and having children, have contributed to an elongated transition period from childhood to adulthood.
This news comes as a relief to those who may feel inadequate due to societal pressures. For unmarried and childless individuals in their early 30s, this redefinition offers validation that their life trajectories are not abnormal.
Moreover, the study suggests that millennials are not inherently more immature than previous generations. Instead, the prevalence of social media and its impact on our lives may contribute to perceptions of immaturity. The constant exposure of our lives through various social networks provides an unfiltered view of our actions and choices.
Should the medical community widely adopt this extended definition of adolescence, it may not have legal implications. However, it could foster a better understanding of the unique challenges millennials face and provide a more developmentally appropriate framework for laws, social policies, and service systems.
While there may be no legal repercussions, the shift in perspective could offer some solace for those who feel their younger relatives’ fashion choices are questionable. After all, they are just adolescents, according to the proposed definition.
In conclusion, this study challenges common perceptions of adolescence and offers new insights into the development of the brain. It provides relief for those going through their 20s and 30s by highlighting the prolonged transition into adulthood. Whether this redefinition will be widely accepted remains to be seen, but it undoubtedly sparks important conversations about the millennial generation and how we understand human development.